Hopefully setting the precedent for future international house show live broadcasts, WWE’s Beast in the East special from Ryougoku Sumo Hall featured a red-hot opening match, a Brock Lesnar thrashing, and an incredible NXT championship match. The commentary team of Michael Cole and Byron Saxon did a great job, outside of a few mispronunciations of Japanese talents, mentioning the history and background of the WWE superstars and other promotions in Japan. If you get the chance check out one of the replays or catch it on demand!
Chris Jericho vs. Neville
Fantastic opener that told a cranky veteran versus hot young upstart story. Neville’s quickness and agility clearly wowed the Japanese crowd as they gasped each time he effortlessly leaped from high-flying maneuver to maneuver. As the match went on Jericho showed more and more heelish tendencies, kicking Neville in the head while he was down. Jericho got in all his signature spots from the Lionsault to the Code Breaker to the Walls of Jericho. There was a great high spot where Jericho hit a codebreaker on a diving Neville. Jericho got the victory after Neville went for the Red Arrow for the third time but Jericho got his knees up and locked in the Liontamer, the much more brutal version of the Walls of Jericho.
Winner: Chris Jericho
WWE Divas Championship Match: Paige vs. Tamina vs. Nikki Bella
Tamina replaced Naomi, who didn’t make the trip due to a family problem. This match featured a more aggressive style than your standard main roster televised match, especially from Paige, kneeing broads in the face repeatedly. Biggest spot of the match was the traditional triple-threat, superplex/powerbomb moment with Tamina powerbombing Nikki who was suplexing Paige. Nikki got the win with a forearm after Tamina missed a Superfly splash on Paige. They’re clearly pushing Nikki becoming the longest reigning Divas Champion but frankly I’m over her title reign.
Winner and still Divas Champion: Nikki Bella
Brock Lesnar vs. Kofi Kingston
Short but extremely fun. WWE should try to get Brock to commit to more of these type of matches on WWE TV, to showcase him more often. Kofi Kingston did the smart thing to start the match by running for his life. Great visual of the Japanese fans reacting to the Godzilla like Lesnar chased Kofi. Kingston got some offense in on the Beast but Lesnar largely brushed it off and rag dolled Kofi throughout. Eventually, Suplex City took up residence in Tokyo, Japan with Brock hitting 3 German suplexes and a F5 for the win. Post-match, Lesnar wasn’t finished delivering another German suplex and a 2nd F5, which brought out the rest of New Day who got F5’s of their own. Watching Brock hoist up Big E was quite impressive.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
NXT Championship: Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens
An epic encounter is the only way to describe this match. Finn Bálor entered first with another spine tingling dramatic entrance by the Demon.
This match had a big match feel and featured traditional Japanese introductions with both men receiving flowers (which were promptly launched into the aisle by Kevin Owens) and streamers. If there is a guy on the WWE roster having more consistently great “big” matches than Kevin Owens right now I can’t name him. In fact as an overall package he’s already vaulted to one of the top heels in the company. Owens’ actions during the opening ceremony and in-match trash talk (“I hate this stupid country”) had the traditionally respectful Japanese fans hating his guts.
On to the match itself, which saw Owens dominating the early going and cutting off Bálor rally after Bálor rally. Owens hit the five moves of doom on Bálor mocking his Battleground opponent John Cena. Owens also made a bid for deputy mayor of Suplex City, hitting the Demon with some German suplexes of his own. Bálor and Owens threw everything at each other: two double foot stomp, cannonball senton, sling blades, a top-rope swanton from Owens but neither man could score the win. Bálor finally captured the NXT championship after two corner dropkicks and a third double foot stomp. Go out of your way to see this match.
Winner and NEW NXT Champion: Finn Bálor
King Barrett & Kane vs. John Cena & Dolph Ziggler
This match had a hard time following the high of Owens vs. Balor. A standard but fun, house show tag team match and John Cena was definitely working a house show style with much more exaggerated facials and apron work than normal to get the live crowd engaged. Cena got the win for his team with an AA after King Barrett ate a Ziggler superkick.
Winners: John Cena & Dolph Ziggler